Do you already use ClickFunnels to create landing pages and sales funnels for your website? Then it might seem logical to use its existing features to create an online course or membership site too.
Is ClickFunnels good for building a membership site? The short answer is no, ClickFunnels is not a good option for creating membership sites. It has a lack of relavent features and there are better options out there for creating membership sites.
ClickFunnels makes several parts of creating and running your membership site or online course harder than it needs to be. Including hosting video and audio files, the registration process for your users, lack of customization, a bad mobile experience, and a lot more.
In this article I'll explain why I don't think ClickFunnels is a very good choice for creating your membership site using 11 examples of why.
I'll also point you in the direction of some better options to consider.
ClickFunnels is a popular online tool originally designed to make it easier for you to build a sales funnel.
It contains a host of different page templates which you can customise with your own offers and use quickly and easily in your marketing campaigns.
It also enables you to take payments and deliver your online products, as well as run an affiliate campaign and create a membership site.
ClickFunnels aims to be an all-in-one solution for the creation and day to day operations of your online business.
However, in ClickFunnel's attempt to be a jack-of-all-trades, it ends up not quite delivering on some of it's aims.
ClickFunnels may be a powerful tool in some areas of your business. Like for creating sales funnels, which it was originally designed for.
But in this article I'm going to look specifically at using it to build a membership site. That's where I think it falls a bit flat.
ClickFunnels promotes the fact you can create a membership site easily using their Funnel Builder Tool. And the process is quite easy to get it all set up. Check out this short video to see what I mean:
However, running a membership site is a big deal.
You will have members paying for access and you need to make sure you have all the features to make it a good experience for them to use, and for you to run.
Here's a list of the main reasons I wouldn't recommend using ClickFunnels to create your membership site:
1) It Doesn't Offer Enough Customization
What you get as a membership area from ClickFunnels out of the box is pretty much what you're stuck with. They don't give you many options to customize your member's area.
You can change the colors of your pages and menus, but that's literally about all you can do.
The content goes on the right, the lessons sit on the left, and you can't really change them.
Maybe there's a way to customize them using CSS code or something else, but I'd much rather go with a membership site plugin that provides me with customization as a standard feature.
If I'm paying for a tool, I want it to be easy to use. I don't want to put in a ton of extra work and try to piece together a bunch of code to make it look the way I want and function properly!
2) Bad User Experience
I think this is probably one of the biggest drawbacks to using ClickFunnels for your membership site.
If your members have a bad experience just because of the software and plugins you choose to use, that's still going to reflect poorly on you.
The problems for your users will start almost immediately. ClickFunnels doesn't integrate their registration process with the payment process.
So first your customer will have to buy your course or membership. Then they'll have to register an account separately.
I mean, how hard is it to just add a couple of extra fields to create a username and password when someone signs up for your site, and email them their payment and registration info together?
If it was just a slight inconvenience that would be one thing. But having payment and registration separated this way can cause some headaches for you and your members.
ClickFunnels uses the email your user purchased the course with and matches it against the email they used when they registered. If these two things match up, your user gets access to the course.
But you're always going to have some users who pay for the course using one email address, and register their account using another.
That's where you can start to run into problems, and it just seems like a silly problem to have to deal with.
Mobile is even worse
A ClickFunnels membership site on desktop looks bad enough, but on a mobile device it's even worse.
When your user logs in on a phone or tablet, the course navigation takes up the entire screen and they need to scroll down to get to the actual content.
It's inconvenient, and you'll probably get a number of support emails from members who don't think to scroll down and have trouble accessing the content. Especially if your students aren't the most tech savvy.
When a member clicks on a lesson, it also doesn't seem like they've gone to a different page, since they need to scroll down past the menu again to see all the content.
If you've got a big membership area with a lot of lessons or resources, it can be a long menu to scroll through as well.
With all of the technology available today, I don't think there's any reason your members should need to settle for a website that isn't very mobile friendly.
3) Lacking In Essential Features
ClickFunnels lacks a lot of the essential features I expect to see in a membership site.
To me, a membership site or online course is more than just a series of articles or videos.
You won't get basic features like quizzes, certificates, or user discussions in ClickFunnels.
Not being able to create a community for members, or even give them a way to engage with me for feedback and asking questions is a big lacking feature in my books.
Creating a community in your online course is really important for good engagement and completion rates, as well as just developing a channel for feedback from your students about what could be improved or added to in your course.
Most people who use ClickFunnels for their membership site or online course get around this by creating a Facebook group for discussion with members.
This can work ok, but you may prefer to be able to customise the way your community area works, with options like adding badges or awards to community members.
4) No Built-In Support For Video Or Audio
ClickFunnels only allows you to host really small files, like up to 3 MB.
That might be fine for Word documents and most PDF files, but it means there's no way to host your audio or video files directly on the platform to use in online courses.
To use video within your ClickFunnels courses you'll have to pay for separate hosting from a service like Amazon S3 or Vimeo.
The extra cost would be bad enough. But adding videos to your course isn't a simple and straightforward process either.
Managing all of your videos can become a struggle when you've got a lot of them. And dealing with multiple platforms just makes any technical difficulties or incompatibilities even harder to figure out.
Most online course platforms on the market today like Teachable and Kajabi allow for unlimited video hosting in their plans and integration with Dropbox or Google Drive for bulk uploading of videos to make it quick and easy.
- Read my comparison article between Kajabi and Clickfunnels here.
With ClickFunnels, it's going to take a lot of extra time, cost and hassle to upload and host your videos on somewhere like Vimeo or Wistia, and then manually embed each one into each page of your membership area.
5) Poor Customer Support
You're probably a very busy online entrepreneur. When something goes wrong, you don't have hours to try and figure it out myself. You expect a customer support person to be able to walk through it with me and get it sorted out quickly.
If the sales page for your popular membership site is down, you're bleeding money every hour that it isn't fixed!
Issues are bound to happen from time to time, so having customer service that I can rely on for the products that I use on my website is a must.
ClickFunnels customer support is notoriously inconsistent with their solutions. One representative might tell you one thing, and a different person would tell you something completely different.
I've heard a lot of people having problems with ClickFunnels support shirking responsibility by telling them that the issue is on the user end. Meaning the problem is either your fault or your member's fault. Even when it's clearly an issue on ClickFunnel's side.
I've also heard of people who paid and signed up for memberships on a site hosted with ClickFunnels, only to find they couldn't get access. After a lot of replies back and forth with CF support, many of them just end up giving up and asking for a refund.
ClickFunnel's bad customer support isn't just inconvenient, it might cost you reputation and income with your members.
6) You Can't Track User Progress
Users can't track their own progress, and you can't track it either.
That's one of the most important features I look for when I'm making a membership site or online course!
As a course creator I need the metrics that tracking users provides to let me know how my course is doing and how I can improve it.
Without basic statistics like a course completion rate or seeing where most of my students are at, I'm basically operating blind. It's like trying to cook in an oven that won't show you what the temperature is.
There's also no way to send reminders to students who haven't visited your site in a while, certificates when they complete the course, or even a congratulations email.
This kind of basic teacher-student interaction can be so useful in creating a thriving membership site.
Members can't even pick up where they left off
Another big drawback of ClickFunnel's lack of tracking user progress is that it can't even remember the last place that a user left off.
So it's your student's responsibility to remember what lesson they were on last, because there won't be any indication next time they return to your site.
That's like giving your students a textbook but not allowing them to use a bookmark to keep track of where they are!
Seriously, what year is this?
7) Users Can't Manage Their Subscription
You'll want to watch out for this one if you want to sell access to your website using a monthly subscription.
ClickFunnels won't allow your members to manage or cancel their own subscription.
If they want to cancel their membership, they'll have to email you. And you'll have to log in through Paypal or Stripe or whatever payment provider you use and cancel it manually. Every single time.
That's so much extra unnecessary work for you.
And guess what else? Users can't even update or change their own payment details through ClickFunnels. That's super shortsighted in my opinion, since credit cards normally expire every couple of years!
They'll either need to cancel their subscription and sign up again (creating a big risk to you that they just won't renew because your platform is so inconvenient,) or you'll have to use a third party app that integrates with Stripe to provide this option.
Yet again another way that ClickFunnels creates tons of extra admin work, complicated processes, and an overall bad user experience for you. Which you could completely avoid by using a better membership platform.
8) Your Former Members Might Still Have Access To Your Content
Some people who have made membership sites or courses using ClickFunnels have reported this neat little flaw.
Sometimes former students still have access to your site, even long after they've canceled their membership.
This is a big issue for your site, especially once people start to figure it out. The whole reason you're creating a membership site is to restrict access to your content to only paying members!
Suddenly your monthly subscription might turn into free lifetime access for someone, and you'll have no idea unless they're honest enough to report it to you themselves.
9) No Way To Link To Individual Lessons
Your ClickFunnels membership area has one URL. That's it.
Individual lessons and modules in your course don't have their own URLs, they're only made available through the main URL using some of ClickFunnel's fancy coding magic.
So you can't ever send people a link to one particular lesson. For example, if someone asks you a question and you want to link to a particular lesson that answers it for them. Or when you add a new lesson to your course and want to make people available.
There's also no way to link to other lessons from within your online course. So there's no way to direct people from one module to another one as reference.
And if you want to drip your course material, there's no way to send a notification or announcement with a direct link to the new content that's become available.
10) Offering Multiple Courses Is Hard
While technically possible, offering multiple courses through ClickFunnels isn't ideal.
There's no way to make a central dashboard to list all of your courses for members.
Every single course will need its own separate registration and login. So users will need to make multiple logins to sign up and participate in all of your courses.
Since ClickFunnels also doesn't store your credit card information, they'll need to re-enter all of their information and go through the whole payment and registration process again for each individual course.
Again this is another area that ClickFunnels lags behind course platforms like Kajabi where members only need to register and enter their payment details once, and then they can easily sign up for all of your other courses.
This is really important if you're likely to make more than one course, which most course creators do go on to do.
11) They Haven't Released A Major Update In Forever
The membership site portion of ClickFunnel's product clearly isn't their focus, and it shows. They haven't released a major update for it in a very long time.
They're updating their sales funnel builder, marketing automation program, and other aspects of their products pretty regularly.
But the membership site portion of ClickFunnels seems pretty neglected.
And as we've discussed above, extremely outdated compared to the features you'd expect from any other membership site or online course platform available today.
What's The Alternative To ClickFunnels For Membership Sites?
ClickFunnels is fine for creating landing pages and sales funnels, but it really lacks when it comes to making membership sites or online courses.
It's badly designed both from a user perspective and also for you as the site's creator (it's a similar situation with Wix and online course creation).
It lacks some essential features and it doesn't look like they're going to be improving or upgrading the platform any time soon.
This seems like a pretty scathing review, but I'd feel really bad if I didn't point out all of these flaws and save someone from going through the hassle of trying to set up a membership site with ClickFunnels when there are so many better alternatives.
So what should you use instead?
I'd recommend people take a hard look at all the alternative online course platforms available before deciding to use ClickFunnels to build their membership site.
I've written an in-depth guide to choosing your online course platform which walks you through the different options, features, pricing to find one that meets your needs.
These platforms have been specifically built to create online courses and membership sites and have all the features you need. Plus they're kept up to date and constantly being improved.
They offer features like unlimited video hosting, integrated payment processing, and more.
Ironically, some of them even allow you to create sales pages and integrated email marketing that entirely removes the need for tools like ClickFunnels.
The other option is to build your membership site or online course using WordPress.
If you are tech-savvy and have the time to create a membership site yourself (or the budget to pay a developer), then with WordPress you can create exactly what you need and like with complete flexibility.
There are a number of different WordPress LMS plugins and membership plugins which have been built with this sole purpose in mind, so check these out if you want to go down this route.
Best of luck with your online course or membership site. Stick around and read some of our other articles or pick up our free eBook + join our email list for more useful info.